Government to hold first annual ‘repeal day’: Four pieces of red tape small businesses could do without

More than 8000 laws are on the chopping block as the federal government holds its first ‘repeal day’.

In the lead-up to Christmas, cabinet ministers were reportedly given six weeks to submit proposed regulatory reductions for policy approval. On March 19, in the first parliamentary sitting week in March, the government plans to present the Omnibus Red Tape Repeal Bill, which will propose slashing 8000 redundant and unnecessary regulations, The Australian reports.

The government plans to hold two repeal days a year where it will aim to remove unnecessary regulation. Since it was elected last September, Coalition ministers have often spoken about the need to remove unnecessary regulation, with federal small business minister Bruce Billson telling SmartCompany removing red tape was a key priority, and the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, Josh Frydenberg, writing in The Australianthat removing unnecessary regulation was one of the best ways to boost economic growth.

In its review of the compliance burden of government regulation last October, the Productivity Commission found that regulations levied on business by government agencies disproportionately affected small businesses, which usually lack the dedicated manpower to ensuring they are compliant with federal, state and local regulations.

With this in mind, here are four bits of red tape small businesses would be glad to see the back of:

1. Quarterly BAS

As it hurtled towards electoral defeat in the September 2013 federal election, the then Labor government proposed several policies that would have significantly reduced the red tape burden on small business.

One of these would be relieving small businesses (with turnover less than $20 million annually) from lodging quarterly Business Activity statements, instead allowing them to lodge such statements yearly.

The policy was widely welcomed by business groups, who described it as a huge win for their advocacy. However, the Coalition has yet to adopt the policy.

2. Paid parental leave scheme

Another proposal floated by Labor was no longer requiring small businesses to administer the government’s paid parental leave scheme.

Currently, the government pays for maternity leave, but requires businesses to apply for and administer the policy through their own payrolls. Under Labor’s election proposal however, the government would itself handle the payments for businesses with under 20 employees, saving small businesses a whole lot of paperwork.

3. Superannuation payments

Employers must pay superannuation on behalf of their employees once per quarter. This is made more difficult by many superannuation funds requiring specific forms of payment. Some require cheques, others want a form on their website filled out, and others use the banking system. This can make it a confusing and time-consuming process for employers to pay superannuation payments on behalf of their employees.

Small businesses with 20 or fewer workers are given some relief: they’re allowed use of the government’s Superannuation Clearing House, recently moved to the Australian Tax Office, which administers payments to the funds nominated by employees.

Labor proposed making the Superannuation Clearing House available to businesses with 100 or fewer workers. Given how much time payroll departments spend on superannuation payments, relieving small business of the burden would be a big help.

4. Coastal shipping red tape

In 2012, the then government introduced legislation that put in place a three-tiered licensing system in Australian waters for ships carrying freight, with some licensees given preferences over others. It also made it a requirement that crews on foreign ships in Australian waters be paid local wages when carrying cargo between Australian waters.

According to the Business Council of Australia, this has reduced competition and increased red tape in coastal shipping, with the cost of freighting goods to some ports jumping by as much as 63% since the regulations were introduced.

Last week, the BCA called for the regulations to be repealed.

“Coastal shipping offers an important freight service for Australian value adding industries, especially for Tasmanian businesses that do not have a land-based transport alternative,” the BCA said.

Think we’ve missed something? What bits of red tape do you want to see gone?

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